Mercedes is seemingly getting the best out of Lewis Hamilton’s penalties and is storing a huge allocation of powertrain components for the remainder of the season. The Briton currently has a 55-place grid penalty.
The three-time world champion was plagued by reliability woes at the start of the season which has already indicated that mid- and late-season penalties could be inevitable.
Drivers can use up to five power units which all consist of six elements. The introduction of the first element of the sixth, seventh powertrain and so on incur a 10-place grid penalty, further elements of those power unit numbers mean a 5-place grid drop.
As rules were modified for this year, drivers who get a penalty worth of more than 21 places cannot be dropped more than to the last position of the grid and unserved grid drops are not carried over to the race or to the following race weekend. It opens up a loophole in the regulation and offers an opportunity for teams to make more component changes in cases when their drivers are sent back to the back of the grid anyway.
Mercedes capitalized on this opportunity and made several component changes for the weekend. It has already introduced new elements for the first, second and also the third practice session for Lewis Hamilton.
It leaves the Briton with plenty of new, fresh components for the remainder of the season.
Hamilton is currently using his sixth internal combustion engine, his eighth MGU-H unit, his eighth turbocharger, sixth KERS unit, fourth energy store and fourth control electronics. It means he has many fresh, spare elements for this season and doesn’t need to take any further penalties.
However, it also locks Hamilton in the actual development version for the ICE, MGU-H, MGU-K and turbocharger. If Mercedes introduce new development steps for those components, he either stays committed to his parts or takes a penalty.